Daily Archives: April 19, 2015

Bitchy Resting Face Got Me Fired

It has been a few months since my last post.  I accepted a position at a start-up company with a great salary that turned out to be an amazing position.

Everything was going great, I picked up the work with ease and my supervisor praised my work.  

Then I receive a phone call from a recruiter asking me about a position that was posted online.  I asked about the position and low and behold, it was mine.  My manager was staring at me during the call, pale and wide eyed.  After I wrapped the call up, my manager suggested we go talk in the other room.  I was told my moods varying much which was an absolute shock to me because I was so happy to be there and I loved what I did.  

When I asked him to elaborate about my mood he said that some days, I looked like I was going to kill someone.  That would be my normal face

after picasso, o’keeffe at the hayward

“I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary, you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.” (Georgia O’Keeffe)


9780300126822I seem to remember knowing and liking her work before I got to London; if I did, it was entirely due to my mother. I’m pretty sure … I know I had at least heard of her. Anyway, there was this retrospective of the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe on at the Hayward Gallery, South Bank (of the Thames flavoured variety) and I must have known her stuff, because I was excited about going.

After some googling today, to see if I could find out some more about the exhibition; I discovered that it was called ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: American and Modern’ and it happened it 1993. Apparently the London art critics loathed it. The Independent newspaper gave it a thorough beating and then rounded up quotes from the other negative reviews. If there were any positive reviews back then, I couldn’t find them online.

“I went through this whole phase where I wanted to be Georgia O’Keeffe. And one day my art teacher came over to me, and she, like, hit me over the head with this rolled-up piece of paper – all my teachers hit me! – and she’s like: ‘You’re terrible! You’re never going to be an artist. You’re a showgirl, get out of here.’” (Madonna)

$(KGrHqNHJDkE7zIDke(NBPG20WscEQ--60_59 (1)The reviews passed me by then and I’m really glad they did; at 23 I was still insecure in my convictions and opinions, no matter how dense an intellectual smokescreen I tried to produce. And that exhibition whacked me into my body the way the Weeping Woman had. 1993 … I’d shifted from London to Edinburgh to Swansea to Guildford by then, so it must have been a drive to a station (Cobham or further up, I don’t know) and then a train into London. By then, I was one of those annoying travellers who infest places with their too loud voices, maps of the underground clutched in sweaty paws and a dog eared A-Z stuffed into a Guatemalan or Nepalese bag. I digress. I confidently made my way to the Hayward, bought a ticket and wandered in. There were a fair few people toddling through, but it was nowhere near the jostling, bustling crowds that had blown my mind at the Royal Academy. The Hayward didn’t feel as large and light as the Tate, and it all felt like a rather solemn experience initially. I imagine my eyes were as wide and timid as a bushbaby’s and knowing me, I probably did my best to render myself (long henna-red hair and all) invisible.

“She was a testy old bird. She reminded me of my grandmother. When I first visited her, I left her a book of my drawings. She didn’t like that and threw her head back like, “Oh for God’s sake” and left the room. Months later, I was reading an interview with Georgia and she was saying, “In another life, I would come back as a blond soprano who could sing high, clear notes without fear.” (Joni Mitchell)

Georgia-OKeeffe-Hands-191-008 (1)There was a film on a loop in one of those gallery darkrooms, I crept in and lurked silently right at the back. I stayed for at least one whole loop, and I fell in love. There was this total hottie, who, as she got older, said quite polite fuck yous to Alfred Stieglitz, New York, the formal art scene – and then she did it her way. She retained what I think of as a particularly classic beauty, she aged, as they say, well. Joan Baez is busy doing the same thing. Grace … that sort of woman has it in truckloads. Photographs of her hands, by husband Stieglitz, became rapidly iconic. I got the impression of someone who, having looked very intensely at a broad range of things, let her soul haul her happily to New Mexico. Most of my favourite works are all from and of there. On film, she spoke about air travel in the 1950s having shown her the world in a whole new light, as well as inspiring the cloud paintings. Art epiphany #2 happened to me, when she was ushered around a gallery and the guy she was with asked what she thought of a Mark Rothko and then a Jackson Pollock. She liked the dense layers and textures of the Rothko, and compared it to a weaving. She didn’t like the Pollock and described it as a mess. (I can’t substantiate those comments, because I can’t find the film online – and a memory from 21 years ago is dodgy at best.) It didn’t occur to me that those opinions were not remotely difficult to get to; what filled my youthful mind with helium, was that I’d had exactly those thoughts too. They weren’t obvious impressions, they were a shared secret between two creative minds, me and Georgia. The head full of helium allowed me to float merrily out to the actual exhibition, with a whole lot less insecurity than before.

“I’ve been terrified my whole life but it never kept me from doing a single thing.” (Georgia O’Keeffe)

Ladder to the Moon

Ladder to the Moon

Room after room after room of O’Keeffes, was another artgasm. It was good to be able to admit to myself that actually, I didn’t like her flowers much at all. I liked (loved) the Lake George and New Mexico paintings, their blues, bones, ladders and stars. So many rooms, with so much more than flowers. I stood, entranced by paths and buildings and skies.

Miss O’Keeffe was strong-willed, hard-working and whimsical. She would wrap herself in a blanket and wait, shivering, in the cold dark for a sunrise to paint; would climb a ladder to see the stars from a roof, and hop around in her stockings on an enormous canvas to add final touches before all the paint dried. From the NY Times obituary)

While I was waiting impatiently to get closer to Ranchos Church Front, Oil Painting, (1930) depicting the Ranchos de Taos San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, I began to eavesdrop. It was a middle aged American couple, dressed the way American tourists that age dressed back then, snug jeans, golf shirts tucked in tidily and those bags that amuse the hell right out of Brits, by being called fanny packs in the USA.


Weren’t we there last year?
Uh, uhm … you mean the trip with Bob and Margaret?
Mhm yeah, I’m sure we went past that church.
It looked different though …
The gate was open when we went past.

pelvis-2Remember that I was fresh from apartheid era South Africa; nine years of a state of emergency counted in a box on the front page of our newspaper every day. Mandela’s “rainbow nation” was still a year away. By 1993, I was still having my mind seriously blown by all the culture I could schnarf. Everything was funnier, brighter and more beautiful than the long dry grass I’d left behind a couple of years earlier.

The gate was open when we went past.

I couldn’t stop laughing about it. Later, as I left the gallery, with all the English concrete drabness outside seeming a little more drab, I had to phone my mother and laugh with her about it. I spent 40 bloody quid on that call and it was well worth it. I needed to tell her pretty much everything I’ve blathered on about in this post. Years later, she was still saying things like, “…and this delighted voice chucked £40 down the phone, just to babble about O’Keeffe.” When I get assaulted by wonderful books, music, art, I get as revved as … whatever thingy gets really, really, really revved. Always did, still do.

“If only people were trees…” O’Keeffe told an interviewer in 1927, “I might like them better.”

09dfdc273f581abe5e50fa079996fdf4In the gallery’s gift shop, I agonised about whether to fork out £13 for the catalogue, or £18 for the full colour, landscape oriented poster called Georgia O’Keeffe at 90. She was wearing a gaucho hat and in profile against a gorgeous blue sky. With a fairly deep white border (one of those that pretends it’s a mount). I bought the catalogue and spent the next 21 years sporadically regretting the choice and hunting for the poster. The image in this paragraph is the closest I could get to it, perhaps it is that poster, but why on earth is the gaucho hat entrenched so freaking deep in my mind? I know, I know, it’s because I want it there. Do I truly want that poster now? Probably not. It wouldn’t bring that day back.


White Canadian Barn

More stuff:

Georgia O’Keeffe talking about her life and work: 3 short video clips from a vintage documentary.
Letter from Frida Kahlo after hearing of O’Keeffe’s nervous breakdown.
A sister in the shadow of Georgia O’Keeffe.

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE: I feel I’m lost without my cane.
ANDY WARHOL: You have me. You can use me as a cane.
Warhol interview with O’Keeffe (& her assistant, Juan Hamilton. She was 96 at the time)


with Rebecca Strand

with Rebecca Strand

Conjecture about her sexuality:

Roxana Robinson writes: ” [ O’Keeffe’s ] androgynous looks and sexually independent manner set her outside the norms of conventional feminine behavior. Writing in the early years to Arthur Macmahon, she had commented ingenuously that she wished sometimes he were a girl. Other women were attracted to her; Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist – an avowed bisexual – boasted that she had flirted with O’Keeffe on meeting her in New York. Moreover, O’Keeffe’s relationships with women were often close and tempestuous: all this has given rise to speculation about bisexual activity. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility, but both [ her friend and neighbor ] Maria Chabot and [ her housekeeper ] Jerrie Newsom flatly and absolutely refuted the suggestion that O’Keeffe ever had sexual relationships with women.” Georgia O’Keeffe: a life

O'Keefe Love Letters

Vile, foul and tasteless:
The gift shop at the O’Keeffe Museum.
An O’Keeffe painting recreated in *shudder* eye makeup.


Please Pray & Hope for Melissa

Please pray for Melissa, my local NAMI‘s President Steve Pitman’s granddaughter. Melissa is a fellow mental health advocate. She is in critical medical condition, hospitalized at UCLA waiting for an organ transplant. Please pray for her. She is young and…

What Happens? Hypomania Happens

What happens when I over-involve myself in social media? (If you are viewing this post from my lovely website, look to the right – or if on a mobile device, to the bottom – see those many colorful icons – I’m…

Award Thingies


I am a socially inept person so without explanation I do not know how to copy the award icons or whatever. I made my own. Fuck it.

So Blahpolar nominated me for an award thingy but then couldn’t really explain it to me. Best I can tell I am supposed to write something about underwear while describing the view from a window while imprisoned.

I forgot to wear undies
oh I am a sinful soul
I should be slapped with a fish
and forcefed Drano.

That is all I’ve for now, as I stare through the bars on my windows into the cold pouring rain, wishing I could escape this cell and…Smack people with fishes.


Sass nominated me for some award as well. I liked the no rules part because, ya know, fuck authority.

Four questions to answer:
1. What I’m working on at the moment?
2. How does my work differ from others in my Genre?
3. Why do I write or create what I do?
4. How does my writing/creative process?

1.)What am I working on at the moment? I am multitasking. Bit of watching a show. Bit of reading a book. Bit of trying to figure out how to post these award thingies so I don’t get armpit acne and earn my pegacorn a smack.
2.)My work differs from others because I have no filters, no grace, I just write it the way my stupid brain spews it. I do edit my posts. I just suck at it. I don’t have proper format and grammar and spelling because I suck at it. But hey, it’s honesty at its messiest. I lack the cohesive thought of other bloggers of this genre and it’s frustrating but me being the trainwreck I am is what makes this blog, mine.
3.) I started this blog almost immediately after The Donor walked out. We used to have these “discussions” where I told him I wanted to do a mental health blog and he’d say, “No one wants to hear about your mental shit.”
In an act of middle finger up tongue defiance, I started this blog. Four years later it seems some people do actually want to hear about mental shit, whether it is particular to me or simply another voice on the subject of living with mental illness. It started out as a “I will give this a shot” thing…And quickly became the best form of therapy I’ve ever had aside from petting purring cats and playing onion ring toss with the horn on my pegacorn’s head.
4.) Process? That’s for organized people who write outlines and shit. I don’t work that way. I am random, spontaneous, messy, and pretty much spew whatever notion has launched itself into my brain and stuck for more than two minutes. I’m a creative rebel. Fuck the rules, just WRITE. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Unfortunately I am a hoarder so I keep even my mistakes.

I am supposed to nominate others but truthfully,the blogs I read most have already been nominated so it would be redundant.

****This post was done as eloquently as can be managed by the swiss cheese brained writer.
***** No mythical creatures came to any actual harm during this post.
*********I really really hope I don’t get armpit acne.

Mental Ilness is scary

I just witnessed mental illness firsthand,other than my family and myself.

Sitting on the train and this lady is moving back and forth, seeming very aggravated. Suddenly out of nowhere she starts cussing and yelling about this woman on the train who didn’t even say a word. A minute later she apologizes to my brother and I saying that she was sorry she yelled but she feeling constricted and the lady was looking at her (which she wasn’t). It scared me a little until I realized that my old friend mental illness was around, I then felt completely normal.

Mental illness is scary when it is sudden, but it’s always there, isn’t it?

The Hypomanic Blogger

When I thought I had unipolar depression, I used to wish I were bipolar, on the theory that I could get a lot more done. (I later found that not to be true, as I’m sure many of you can attest.)

I had a lot more experience with depression than with mania. My bipolar disorder is Type 2, which means I get hypomania instead of full-blown mania. And most of the time the hypomania comes out sideways as anxiety and/or irritability.

(Don’t ask me why I get the full-monty-style depression and only a smidge of hypomania. I don’t know. If my shrink does, he hasn’t told me.)

Looking back, I can remember only one hypomanic episode before my new diagnosis made me more aware of the possibility. I was working at writing and editing – the same things I do now, only then I could do it in an office full-time instead of at home and freelance. A woman came to me, asking about how she could become a writer for magazines.

I positively burbled and babbled. I gave her all sorts of advice on query letters and Writer’s Market and niche publications and getting bylines and clips. I told her about how I started, writing for I Love Cats magazine and editing my martial arts club’s journal, and working my way up. (Incidentally, I am, as far as I know, the only person ever to have articles published in both Black Belt and Catechist magazines.)

The woman went away inspired, she said, though I never heard how she made out.

Now I can more easily recognize hypomania when it hits. I still get the anxious and irritable sort, but now I get more of the buzzy kind. And even though it makes me twitchy, I can make use of it.

It was in a bout of hypomania that I decided to start this blog (and my other, general-purpose one – janetcobur.wordpress.com).
It’s hypomania that has kept me going for over a year so far. Though I can now, thanks to medication, force myself to work while in the dysthymic stage or the “meh” stage, if I hit a spell of hypomania, I can use it to write and edit. Right now I’m using a hypomanic swing to stockpile ideas and first drafts against the inevitable downswing.

Of course, the ramblings that go with hypomania are not worth posting (or submitting to a client) the way they hit the screen. When I’m less jazzed, but not in the Pit of Despair, I can re-read, edit, and improve. It’s a fine balance, a tightrope I’m learning to walk. And it takes both therapy and medication to maintain.

In essence, the not-properly-treated bipolar 2 made my work go downhill (even as I did), until I was unable to work at all. Now that my diagnosis and my meds are more on track, so am I. I may not be well, but I certainly am better. I can live with what I’ve got, and even re-learn how to use some of the abilities I lost in my most recent, largest, most devastating crash.

I wouldn’t recommend mania or even hypomania to anyone, but as long as I’ve got it, I might as well make it be good for something.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, bipolar type 2, blogging, depression, freelance work, hypomania, mental health, mental illness, my experiences, working at home, writing

Time for Self Love

Its Sunday, the kids are outside, your schedule is open, or your making it open for some SELF-LOVE!

Go take a bath

Watch your favorite movie



Do your hair or nails

Do something for yourself today, eve. If it’s for 10 mins. The more we know and love ourselves the less mental illness has us! 


Mental Morgueticia, A to Z

I have no awesome entry ideas for today. So let’s be random. I’ve been playing this game with my kid just to keep her occupied and control her noise. We name animals/colors/shapes/ by each letter of the alphabet. So I am going to use that template for this post about…me me me me me.
I’d write about someone else but um, yeah, I only know me best. And just to warn you, I am feeling unfocused so try to keep up with the ping pong ball thoughts if you dare to brave reading this regurgitation.

A-Agoraphobia and alcohol- My kid won a party night for her reading accomplishments this school year. So next month I am facing a gym full of kids and parents in an unfamiliar place with noise and stimuli and my first thought was, “Can I have a couple of drinks first?” Crowds are hard for me. Weird places are hard for me. I will likely be nauseous and have pretzel gut until it’s over. Then comes the alcohol.
B- Bridges, bipolar and beef jerky. Yes, when I am too lazy to cook, I survive on beef jerky. (Clover Valley from Dollar General is wayyy better than the pricier Jack Links.) As for bridges…It occurs to me how many I have burned over the years, some intentional, some not. It’s like I have this underlying desire to shun any long term relationships. It’d be helpful to actually attract people who don’t think mental illness is fake. I want to burn those bridges to the fucking ground. Stupid bipolar makes it all fairly random, though.
C-Cyclothymic mood shifts, cake vodka and cats. Yes, I rapid cycle to the degree of cyclothymia but my epic depressions secure me at bipolar two. No one can buy that my moods shift that rapidly therefore it must all be a mercurial personality. Walk in the shoes before you decide how comfy they are. Cats are my therapy. Give me a purring cat over a therapist any day. Cake vodka, well, it’s one of the few things I can drink straight up, no mixer needed.
D-Depression- Until you’ve been locked in a solid depressive state for ten straight months, the seriousness of the word depression doesn’t quite hit home. When you stop bathing for weeks, stop taking out trash, and spend 18 hours a day in a seroquel-trazadone stupor…Yeah, there’s depression and then there’s that, whatever the fuck it is.
E-Euphoria and Eminem. I only ever feel euphoria during manic episodes. It’s uncomfortable. Mainly because it is awesome but short lived and returning to my norm SUCKS. Eminem,well, he’s my anger management course. As in, his lyrics enable me to vent my fury instead of bottling up and smacking unicorns.
F-Fuck fuck fucking friends who don’t get it. Worse than having no friends. Focalin, my new bestie. And the word fuck, my absolute favorite word in the entire world.
G- Grief. I still marvel at how dead inside I am when people die yet I fall apart when an animal dies.
H- Hell. It’s not so much biblical belief as it is the perfect metaphor for mental illness. Except you don’t know what you’re being punished for.
I- Ignorance. If I choose to believe people are ignorant rather than evil, it helps me have hope for humankind. Because ignorance can be educated and changed.
J- Jackasses. Nothing motivates me against the suicidal ideation than people telling me I should kill myself. Rebel yell, bitches.
K- Killers. Not as in I am in favor of them. Just…One of the first books I read as a teenager was the Hillside Stranglers book and I was repulsed. But then I started viewing it from a psychological standpoint, as well as rooting for them being arrested. What makes some people become killers and some people not? The profilers have their theories and patterns but much like the DSM…People are not black and white. It’s intellectually stimulating to me. Because if mental trauma and imbalance are to be blamed, I should be the most prolific serial killer since Elizabeth Bathory. (Who ironically, shares a birthday with my daughter.)
L-Lamictal. It has proven to be the super drug as far as mood stabilization goes. And very few side effects. I’ve been on it going on 4 years. That’s a miracle drug for me. Liquor because when all the socially appropriate things fail, a few drinks will either make you feel better or put you to sleep.
M-Manic, Metal, Misanthropic. Manic episodes, the high money can’t buy. And much like drugs, you come out of it going WTF DID I JUST DO? And heavy metal music. Eargasms. Misanthropy proves correct when you encounter asshole after asshole.
N- NOPE. Some days are just NOPE. Does Not Want.
0- Off kilter.Describes me every day.
P- PANXIETY. Paranoid anxiety is a thing. I mean, the DSM is constantly reclassifying and coming up with new disorders. Why not panxiety? It’s that anxiety and paranoia where you don’t fear physical harm but are very sure people are out to damage you psychologically.
Q- Queen of the damned. It was the only nickname ever bestowed on me I truly loved. That and the pre diagnosis days when I was merely quirky rather than mental.
R- Random. Curse of a churning unfocused mind.
S- Seasonal affective disorder. It is real. And no matter what the professionals throw out there, until the weather changes…You are its bitch.
T- Traitor. My brain deserves the death penalty for its treachery. I tell it one thing, it does another thing. Constantly flouting my authority, making me feel weak. Therapy. Bucket of fail aside from being allowed to vent.
U-Under the influence. Mental illness is an altered state much like being drunk or on drugs. Until you “sober up”, you’re not in your right mind.
V- Venom. When the mood turns to anger…I spew venom at will. Not attractive but factual. I’m at least aware of it.
W. Why? Seriously, why does anyone have to have mental fucking illness?
X- XANAX. Off and on for 20 years it has been the one thing to bring me back down to earth when I vanish into the panic zone.
Y- Yourself. Only you truly know who you are so don’t let a mental health diagnosis convince you otherwise.
Z- Zany. Yes, mentally ill people can still have a sense of humor, be funny, make you laugh, and seem not at all ill. Zany doesn’t mean cured or faking. It’s just one more of those gifts mental illness passes out.

That concludes my moronic rant.
Now I am gonna go ride a pegacorn while my daughter goes to Sunday school. Last week she came home talking about SIN SIN SIN. Awesome. She called me the big sin. Uh huh.
What’s really sinful is for the powers to be to prattle on about the obesity epidemic yet no one can figure out how to make lettuce taste like french fries.
Priorities, bitches.

No updates is an update

I am live from NYC and I’m doing well.

Last night I was a loser and went to bed at 10 pm, but that’s what happens when your on a schedule and your on vaca.

Visiting my brother and getting out of my own face is nice and refreshing. Getting on trains and buses really make you feel like you’ve been missing out.

Hopefully I bring this excitement into my own area and use it…

How is your weekend?